Enmore 1990, 28yo, 54.9% – The Duchess

I feel like a bit of a douche for not reviewing this rum earlier, since I’ve had the sample sitting on my shelf for months. Unfortunately, I put another bottle in front of it, and with me having to switch jobs I was kind of preoccupied with a lot of things that weren’t reviewing new hooch that came in.

Anyway, I have to thank Best of Wines / Best of Whiskies / Nils van Rijn for sending me this sample of one of their older rum bottlings under the The Duchess label. They’ve been at it for several years, and so far I’ve not had one that I didn’t like. With the age on this one, I do feel like we’re in for a treat once again!

I know virtually nothing about rum distilleries and provenance and style between different countries, but for those it might concern, this rum was distilled in a Versailles Pot Still, which is a wooden still! I know of only one distillery that used to use wooden still, Lost Spirits Distillery in California, and that’s not exactly good advertisement for it.

18599_bigSniff:
A little sulfury on the nose, with burnt sugar, sugar cane and shoe polish. Some baked fruits with a touch of bitterness.

Sip:
The palate is rather gentle, for the ABV, although there is some chili-pepper-like heat after a few seconds. The cane goes more towards corn and grass, but still with burnt sugar and golden syrup.

Swallow:
The finish too has some green fruit and grass flavors. It’s quite interesting but I can’t pin down what it tastes like. There’s shoe polish, sugar cane and caramel, but there’s something else too.

A very difficult rum, but very interesting too. Very lovely, but I’m a bit annoyed I can’t pin down that one flavor that is so prominent. The wooden still might be the culprit at putting in that one flavor, but luckily it’s light years better than that Lost Spirits stuff!

89/100

Enmore, 18yo, 1990, Guyana, Versailles Pot Still, Cask 49, 54.9%. Available at Best of Wines for € 245

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Bowmore 1996-2010, 14yo, 59.7% – Braunstein, DFDS Embassy Collection

Yet another Bowmore from the mid-nineties! Generally, as I have waxed about recently, I love these bourbon casks trips down memory lane. This one was bottled 10 years ago, by Braunstein, but the cask was chosen by people from DFDS, the ferry service from Scandinavia and the Netherlands, towards (among other locations) the north of  England. I’ll be on one of their ferries in less than a month!

A fourteen year old bourbon cask matured Bowmore is bound for success, even though the almost 60% ABV more or less indicates a rather inactive cask. I have hope!

I’m writing and tasting at the same time now, and even though these are the last couple of drops from the bottle, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I’ve drank the rest of the bottle (the part I didn’t share), but never with much attention. This also indicates that it didn’t really draw attention to itself.

Sniff:
Quite a lot of alcohol on the nose, with the rather typical lemony smokiness and brine scents that I love from Bowmore. It’s all rather timid, though, and the alcohol is the biggest aroma I’m getting. It’s more or less a warning sign for what’s to come.

Sip:
The palate is really held back by the rather insane burn of the alcohol. I’m doing my best to get some descriptors, but apart from my tongue going through agony and turning into leather, I don’t really get anywhere.

Swallow:
The finish is hot too, with a lot of burn going down. There’s a bit more smokiness to be detected.

Contrary to what I, literally, always do, I’m adding a drop of water.

Sniff:
The nose loses quite a bit of the coastal scents it had before. It’s a lot less crisp and I start getting some fruity notes. There’s a bit of barley and apple sauce.

Sip:
The palate is a lot more amiable, with some more warming notes of a beachy bonfire. There’s still some heat with it being watered down to (an estimated) 40% or so.

Swallow:
The finish is a lot more dry and autumnal, with powdered leaves, salt and smoke. Still it packs a punch, but in a much more likable way.

I guess my guess of a rather inactive cask was correct, since it doesn’t seem to have mellowed much over the 14 years it was laid to rest. It’s mostly a lot of heat from the alcohol, with only some direct oak influence and not many other flavors and aromas to be found.

Based on my numerous experiences in drinking this and it not drawing attention to itself, most has happened in the small hours of the evening, and never as a first or second dram. In a way, it’s a pretty crappy Bowmore, compared to what the vintage is capable of. A shame.

75/100

 

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Irish Single Malt, 1991-2015, 54.9% – Daily Dram

While it looks like I’m publishing the same whiskey twice, this is actually a different cask, with a different ABV. Also, this is not a sherry cask like the previous post. It is, however, the same bottler, the same age and same vintage.

My guess this came out in a batch, and was purchased in a batch too. Generally, this is great stuff, so trying sister casks is not a particularly bad thing!

Based on previous experiences I expect this whiskey to be rather good, but not entirely to my liking, since I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘plastic wine gum bags’ that I generally associate with Irish single malt of this era. Let’s check whether I’m right or not!

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Very gentle and quite heavy on the barley. The sweetness is there, but it’s more like pear drops than the wine gum bags I expected. There’s also some roastiness on the nose, like grilled pineapple. Quite a lot of dried yellow fruit. Apples, pineapples, maybe some oranges too. A bit more timid than the sherry cask that I reviewed recently.

Sip:
The palate is a bit more gentle, and not as dry as I expected. There’s a lot of barley to be found, with a bit of oak, but it’s not overdoing it. Grilled pineapple, dried apples, pear skins. Quite a fruity, and very bourbon-cask-driven, without having too much vanilla in it. There’s some, but it’s not like you’re having boozy custard.

Swallow:
The finish kicks the barley in overdrive, with much more dry notes, and more focus on the roastiness that I found on the nose.

Generally, I have a problem telling the preference between sherry and bourbon casks. As in, because for a review like this I only have one glass of whiskey of the reviewed liquid, I have to go by first impressions. On those first impressions, the sherry casks generally win over the bourbon casks. However, when you’re going through an entire bottle, I generally find the bourbon casks to have more longevity. As in, they stay interesting longer, there’s more to discover and there’s a tad more ‘uniqueness’.

I think in this case that is the situation too. The sherry casks makes for more impact, but when truly thinking about the liquid, I think I like the bourbon cask at least as much. And if I had a bottle, I think I would more gladly go back to the bourbon cask for a contemplative moment.

91/100

Irish Single Malt, 1991-2015, 23yo, 54.9%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams.

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Irish Single Malt, 1991-2015, 54.6% – Daily Dram

Around 2015 there was a massive hype around older Irish single malts, twenty-ish years old for most of them, that has since more or less subsided. All of them were of unknown provenance, although with them being distilled around 1990 there wasn’t much to choose from. Technically they could be from Midleton distillery, but that’s highly unlikely. The other two options are Cooley and Bushmills.

Back then there was some discussion whether or not Cooley was actually distilling the unpeated style that had become available. Rumor had it that they had outsourced the distilling to Bushmills, which left us with only one option.

Anyway, I don’t expect to ever be 100% sure, but what I am sure of is that most of these Irish whiskeys were crackers, and have become rather unreachable, price wise. Luckily, I found a sample of this one in my cupboard, which I expect to have come from Teun, the Maltstock guy.

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Image from Whiskybase. What an epic label!

Sniff:
Massive on the sherry, both dry and fruity. The backdrop of wine gums that I associate with Irish single malt is present too, but works well with the sherry instead of being a contrast to it. Somehow I get cola, but also dates and cinnamon. Lots of pastry ingredients, without the pastry.

Sip:
The palate is just as dry, with a lot of oak. There’s a lot of candy like sweetness but that’s constrained by a bitterness with almonds and the stones from plums and dates and cherries. After a while there is some chili heat, with some sweetness still. Again, cherry cola.

Swallow:
The finish quickly mellows and suddenly has a hint of properly browned marshmallows. This flavors comes on top of the candy, oak and sherry. It still is very dry with baking spices, which makes for quite the great finish.

This is a cracker. I think a lot of these Irish whiskeys, even though they’re still very good, taste too much of wine gums and have a lot of chemical-like sweetness in them. In this case, the sherry cask has removed (or overpowered) that aspect and just adds a lot of great flavors instead of it. In short, this is an epic whiskey.

91/100

Irish Single Malt, 1991-2015, 23yo, 54.6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams.

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Springbank CV, 46% – OB from 1997

Springbank CV. One of the earlier NAS whiskies to ever be mainstream. About a decade ago it was re-released with the other brands too, Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn. Three 20cl bottles in a small box. While these weren’t exactly bad, they were quite boring, to be honest. I don’t know why I never reviewed the Longrow.

Anyway, this version was bottled more than a decade before these, so that’s about 23 years ago. In an auction several years ago I got myself a bottle and finished it a while ago. I kept a sample for proper assessment, which I did around Christmas.

Only 2.5 months later I post the notes, which is pretty quick in fact. I think I’ve got a year’s worth of notes backed up. Most of these have lost their relevance a long time ago.

Anyway, Springbank CV from the nineties. A bottle that was pretty cheap back in the day, and now sits in the secondary market for almost € 400.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Quite ‘old’ in style, with walnuts, mushrooms, moldy attics, hessian. Some oily scent as well, olive oil with a whiff of diesel smoke. There’s a lot of barley on the nose, and it somehow screams old-fashionedness. As in, nothing about the scent of this whisky is modern.

Sip:
The palate is reasonably intense without being too sharp. There’s a lot of barley, but that’s no surprise after the nose. Some fruit as well, in dried apple, ripe pear. The whiff of smoke is present too, and there’s more coastal salinity than before.

Swallow:
The finish is warming and wintry. Burning logs, hessian, moldy attics. Very ’60s’ even though it’s made much more recent. It’s quite long as well.

It’s a very typical Springbank with much of its greatest qualities present in distillate from the late eighties and early nineties. This makes me think they’re generally pretty consistent. Apart from the great flavors that are present, the only downside I can pinpoint it that it’s a tad thin, compared to the current Springbank 10 year old.

85/100

Springbank CV, bottled in 1997, 46%

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Springbank 19, 2000-2020, 50.8% – The Whisky Kingdom for Wu Dram Clan

I got an announcement from Boris Borissov that they were on the verge of releasing a Springbank single cask. Knowing their aim for quality, and having experienced it through their Lagavulin and their Highland Park, I was thrilled immediately.

What also helps is that I’m a huge Springbank fanboy. As in, not one of those Apple-fanboy-esque figures that just swallows everything that’s put out like it’s the best thing since sliced bread, but a more critical one that wants them to simple do what their good at: Releasing great whiskies without too much bells and whistles.

Luckily, when details of this whisky were announced it turned out to be a refill sherry cask, which is something that I find to combine very well with Springbank. A sort of toned down sherry influence.

I was very happy to receive a sample for reviewing from Boris Borissov, and I was even more surprised to find that there aren’t even tasting notes or even a mark on Whiskybase yet. Very contrary to my style, I’m early with this review.

Also, when a sample makes you feel fabulous, you just have to react, don’t you?

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Epic label too.

Sniff:
A typical Springbank that’s mainly focused on barley, straw and coastal crispness of a decent breeze from the sea. Quite some salinity, dry oak, but some lactic acid as well. Star fruit and apple. After a few minutes a campfire like smokiness comes through.

Sip:
The palate has some bite to it, with some heat from the alcohol. When your mouth gets used to it, it still stays a dram with a surprising bite for the ABV it has. The dryness is very pronounced with barley, husks and oak. The star fruit, is still here, but the apple is all but gone. The palate is quite coastal with some salinity, and surprisingly, there’s some acidity too, which isn’t that normal for a Springbank. The smokiness is almost up to Longrow-like levels, but stays a bit more gentle than that.

Swallow:
The finish is a tad richer than the palate was, with a bit more warming barley notes and a tad less dryness. Some pastry notes as well, with apple crumble, and maybe some walnuts too.

This is at first a very interesting whisky with quite some unusual notes. Especially the slight acidity, with some lactic notes on the nose, is something rather unique. Luckily, it is not ‘unique’ in such a way that it gets off-putting after a few sips. Especially since there’s enough other flavors to focus on and get a very good drinking experience.

A very well picked cask, if you ask me. Available for € 329 at Whisky Tempel

EDIT: The price is already in resale, the original price was € 249. Which also means it is in resale even before the bottles have been distributed…

91/100

Springbank 19, 03-09-2000/29-01-2020, Refill Sherry Hogshead 669, 50.8% – The Whisky Kingdom for Wu Dram Clan

Thanks for the sample guys, much obliged!

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Bowmore 1995-2012, 16yo, 54.4% – Adelphi

If there are any regulars and they’ve read some earlier posts on Bowmores from the mid-nineties, they probably know I really love these vintages. 1993 is always the much laureled vintage, but I generally prefer 1995 and 1996 for a more typical dram of Bowmore, reminiscent of the 1960s style. Of course, this is all in my humble opinion.

So, when this 1995 vintage was spied with my little eye at The Old Pipe, some years ago, I picked it up and did a small bottle share with it later. Small, as in, I still kept 30 or 40cl for myself and only sold a few samples.

You wouldn’t say it by the color, but this was drawn from a refill sherry cask in 2012, at 54.4%. So, even though it’s not really old, the ABV had mellowed quite a bit by then.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Gentle wood smoke and a whiff of earthy peat. A hint of brine and some subdued dried fruit. Some coconut, peach, apricot and tarry ropes. A whiff of fresh paint and boats. Of course, behind it all is reliable barley and oak.

Sip:
The smoke is a bit sharper here. Also, while gentle on the nose, this is where the strength shows. There’s peach, apricot and Valencia oranges. Also, there’s brine, smoke, tar. Fruit and harbor.

Swallow:
The finish has a bit of dryness and bite because of the alcohol. Apart from that, there’s fruit, smoke and oak.

Typical Bowmore. Utterly delicious and rather smooth and gentle. Some bite, but never too much and well balanced. The coastal peatiness works very well with the fruit from the sherry cask, and because it’s a refill cask there’s more than enough room for the spirit to shine.

Available in the Whiskybase Marketplace for € 170.

90/100

Bowmore 1995-2012, 16yo, Refill Sherry cask 8, 603 bottles, 54.4%

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